ImageSpotlight: Red Eared Slider Reflection

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During a recent trip to South Texas I found this red eared slider sitting on an old log. It was an extremely quiet morning around Ibis Pond at Estero Llano Grande State Park. The birds were not too active on this day but this image was one I could not pass up.  While this turtle is native to much of the Southern United States and Mexico, its popularity in the pet trade has made this an invasive species elsewhere due to their release by pet owners. While I have many concerns with the pet trade (exotic pet trade in particular), I will leave that to another post. In this part of the world, and in this image, the red eared slider is in its native habitat and thriving in a balanced ecosystem.

I used the gear below to capture this photograph (to see a description of this and other gear I recommend, please see my gear recommendations page).

Canon 7D Mk II 

Canon 500mm

Gitzo Tripod

Kirk BH1 Ballhead

Until Next Time….Good Light and Keep Shooting! –KJHurt

 

ImageSpotlight: Great Blue Heron with Prey

Great Blue Heron.  Canon 7D | 500/4.5

Great Blue Heron. South Padre Island, Texas.

During a quick visit to Texas, I ventured out one morning to South Padre Island. I’ve always had good luck at this location and the morning would not let me down. While a bit slow by a “good day” standard, my patience was rewarded as this Great Blue Heron began to hunt/fish in front of me. I managed a series of images of this particular sequence and this is one I particularly liked with the heron’s wing position and the blood trailing from fish to water.

Until next time, good light and keep shooting. — KEVIN

Gear I used to make this shot:

Canon 7D – I used v1 of this camera body which is now my backup to the 7DMII.

Canon 500mm–  I used version 1 of this lens which is no longer available now that vII is.

Gitzo Tripod – I own and still use the Gitzo 1325 which has not been manufactured for years now. However, I have linked a good on you can purchase today (other options on my gear recommendations page).

Wimberley WH200– an essential piece of gear for long lenses.

Wimberley P40– without this you can’t mount the lens to the tripod.

 

What About Camera Kits?

Recently, I added a page on my blog for “Gear Recommendations” and there is a wealth of information there about Canon camera bodies, lenses, accessories, and miscellaneous items people may need and perhaps have not considered (Nikon offers similar equivalent options). However, I knew I would get a question about my recommendations on “kits” so I’m going to give my thoughts on that here.

  1. You probably shouldn’t get a bundled kit.
  2. Some bundles may actually be pretty good.

Wait! Didn’t I just contradict myself with points 1 and 2? I mean, should you buy a kit or not? I’m not really helping here am I? Let me clarify the confusion I may have created.

Typical things bundled in a kit include tripods, filters, camera bags, memory cards, lenses, and miscellaneous things most of which you will probably lose in time. If you read my gear recommendations page, I actually own all of those things (including misc. items I’ve accumulated over the years that in retrospect I didn’t need but I’m a recovering gear junkie so cut me a little slack 🙂 …please). So here is what I recommend after more than 15 years of shooting.

To make sure that you are getting a good kit, focus primarily on the camera body and bundled lenses. Make sure these are name brand (e.g. Canon, Nikon), particularly as it pertains to lenses. However, if a bundled lens is from Tamron, Sigma, or Tokina, it’s probably a decent lens. If it’s another brand, don’t get too excited. All of the lower-priced kits will contain entry level consumer cameras but manufacturers have improved their offerings that even with an entry-level body you can capture stellar images and video. What you lose in these camera bodies that you would gain moving up to a prosumer body is often ISO performance, frames per second, and ergonomics that make it easier to control shooting options (e.g. exposure compensation).

The problem with most bundled items is that the quality is just not there for serious photography. For example, the tripods are decent (perfectly fine for a mirrorless system) but they typically do not support a lot of weight so they won’t be steady and I certainly wouldn’t trust their mounting system to secure the camera body & lens to the tripod head (no thanks I say to the plastic mounting systems). The filters are not multicoated and likely will cause a major color cast so if you put cheap glass on a quality lens, you just turned that quality lens into a cheap one (not something you would knowingly want to do). Some lenses are decent to start and learn with, or perfectly acceptable for outdoor shooting with plenty of light, while others are gimmickry. If you are wanting a bundle for indoor photography, these may work provided you can use external flash (not the one on your camera); but, if you are relying on ambient light, these kit lenses will leave you wondering why your images are blurry, especially if you are trying to shoot sports.

As for the other accessories, make sure they are a known brand (e.g. Sandisk, Lexar, Hoya, B&W, Tamron, Sigma, Tokina). In the case of memory cards, you are not likely to get Sandisk Extreme, or Lexar Professional but cards from these manufacturers are still very reliable and they won’t be bad to start with (you can always used them as a backup should you ever fill the other memory cards that you will no doubt end up purchasing). For almost all other bundled items, you can find an alternative use for them or probably throw them in a drawer and forget about them, they’re really not worth much (but bundles vary so you might find a lucky gem).

While I’m still a firm believer that you should probably independently purchase the items you need to suit your needs, if you want to start with a kit, here are some decent options (as of the time of this writing):

Canon EOS Rebel T6 Bundle

Canon EOS Rebel T7i Bundle

Canon 80D Bundle – Note that this is a prosumer camera body.

Nikon D3400 Bundle

Nikon D5600 Bundle

Nikon D7200 Bundle This too is a prosumer camera body.

Sony A7 Bundle

Olympus OMD EM10-MkII Bundle

Olympus OMD Em-5MkII Bundle

NOTE: The Sony and Olympus bundles are mirrorless cameras. The SONY is a full frame mirrorless camera with a phenomenal sensor. These are very popular with landscape photographers because of their small size, weight, and that SONY sensor. I don’t own this or the Olympus cameras listed here but I do own an older Olympus mirrorless camera (E-Pl2) that is a surprisingly good little shooter, particularly for an older camera. I’ve always wanted to upgrade and play with the Olympus mirrorless camera and lens options (not to replace my Canon gear, just to add the OMD to the lineup of fun) but as I said earlier, I’m a recovering gear junkie so I have to guard against falling off the wagon…or is that falling on the wagon? You get the idea :).

I hope this helps answer questions about what camera bundles to consider. If you want to know about specific options, contact me with your photography objectives and I’d be happy to recommend some gear based on your photographic goals/budget.

Until then, good light and keep shooting. –Kevin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Have You Been?

I have been getting that question a lot lately as I all but disappeared completely from my blog posts. However, I have been here and busy as ever. I have continued my nature photography exploits but I have nearly doubled, tripled even, my involvement in sports/action photography. For the past year, the sports photography has dominated my time and since I’ve tried to keep this blog dedicated to my wildlife/nature pursuits, I didn’t blog about the sports stuff. So, let me give you a brief update on my near-term plans: 1) I will get back to my first photographic passion (nature photography), 2) I’ll continue expanding my sports/action photography, and 3) I’m committed to getting a YouTube channel started that will mostly be about nature and sports/action but since I plan on doing that for fun, I’ll share other things that I enjoy (gear reviews, BBQ, and other general interests).

WHATS NEW ON MY BLOG?:  I have added a new page for Gear Recommendations. I find that I’m always answering questions related to gear so I put together this page to help others.

That’s it for now but I’ll leave you with a few sample nature images. I’ll update you once my YouTube channel is up and running. Until then….

Good light and keep shooting. — Kevin

 

Cokin Z-Pro Filter Holder: Sold

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I’m selling a Like New Cokin Z-Pro Filter Holder for anyone who is interested. I’ve used it just a few times but I’ve decided to clean house on some of the items I rarely use. I’ve attached a stock photo and have foregone the description as chances are, you know exactly what this is used for.

$60 shipped in continental USA.

I’ll be back with some new images soon. Until then, good light and keep shooting.

KEVIN

ImageSpotlight: Reflection Bridge

This image may be difficult to truly appreciate given the size for internet viewing. It’s a panorama stitched from 5 different images. The day was extremely still and that allowed the capture of a mirror-like reflection of this bridge. Given the pale blue sky, I decided to minimize it in the image so that the focus of attention would remain on the bridge.

Until next time, good light and keep shooting. –KEVIN

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Fall Cabin

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Fall Cabin.  Canon 7D MkII | ef-s 10-22mm | ISO 200

Fall 2016 in Central Georgia has not been the most prolific. The temperatures have been hotter than normal and there has been little to no rain thus far. The colors have simply not been as abundant or long-lasting. Nevertheless, some colors do exist and the challenge for us as photographers is to find and make a pleasing image. The challenge for me was particularly great today because I also had to contend with shooting at the wrong time of day and the contrast between light and shadow.

I drove out to this old cabin and was pleased to see some colors extending above the cabin roof. Given that the colors extended high in the trees, I shot this image in a vertical orientation. While you can envision the peace of sitting on the rockers on a cool fall evening, there is one thing that the image simply cannot convey to the viewer….the deep scent of the pine cabin. I stood at the doorway and took a deep fresh breath, then hit the trails in search of another image.

Until next time…Good light and keep shooting.–KEVIN